Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Land Rover Defender is one car none of us wanted to lose

IT’S FINALLY happened. A car that’s spent the best part of two decades dodging the Grim Reaper has finally been offered a final parting drink and ordered out to face the music. The Land Rover Defender is no more.

Yesterday the whole of the motoring world seemed to sigh reflectively as the last of the traditional Land Rovers rolled off the Solihull production line, bringing 68 years of production to an end. Not bad for something only ever intended as a stopgap to increase the number of cars the old Rover Car Company (remember them?) could export in the late 1940s.

The petrolhead parts of Facebook and Twitter lit up with misty-eyed tributes to the Land Rover, and footage of the final Defender even made it onto the BBC’s news bulletins. It’s hard to think of any other car that’d provoke such an emotional response – people are genuinely sad to see it go, just as they were when the last Mini was finished off 16 years ago.

Yes, I know a big, boxy four-wheel-drive is hardly moving with these eco-conscious times and that EU safety rules were the final nails in its coffin. I’m also aware that the Defender is fairly terrible to drive on the road, has no shoulder room whatsoever and handles corners like it’s drunk, but in tricky situations on tough terrain it was the Ray Mears type you wanted by your side. Having grown up with them it was like a family friend, a sort of Labrador with locking differentials and transfer boxes.

My parents had a One Ten so I spent virtually all my childhood holidays, shopping trips, school runs and – shock, horror – off road outings in the back of one. Inevitably I’d end up getting taken to places like North Wales and the Lake District, where every farmer and mountain rescue team had one trundling around doing useful things. There aren’t many cars you can genuinely count as being British motoring institutions, but the Land Rover is definitely one of them.

That’s before I mention all the foreign battlefields, remote African villages and Outback farms they’ve been serving in for generations. It has one heck of a CV, which is why I’m hardly surprised Land Rover hasn’t yet lined up something to replace it.

Farewell, old friend. I’m sure I can’t be the only one saddened that one of Britain’s best known exports is no more.


  1. Land Rover a nice story. Affordability is the cornerstone of everything at FR Conversions.